Monday, February 25, 2013

how does your family impact your love language?

My family was never really the type to say "I love you."

And, I'm fine with that. I know they love me. We spent time together, did nice things for each other, celebrated each other's accomplishments and birthdays, laughed a lot together, etc. We didn't need to say "I love you" out loud all the time. I actually think it would be very uncomfortable if we suddenly started verbalizing it.

We also weren't the hugging type. 

Some families are much more physically affectionate than mine. I remember knowing a particular pair of siblings in high school (a boy and a girl) who were constantly engaged in back scratching, minor cuddling, throwing an arm around the shoulders, etc. Nothing wrong with it, just definitely different than my family so it always threw me off a little.


How has this impacted my relationships?

You know, I've never really been down with the whole love language theory, because I usually feel like I'm a little bit of everything. I don't always verbalize my feelings well, but I write them rather well (no surprise there). And, I do like hearing nice things from other people. I'm not really the hugging type when it comes to friends or casual acquaintances (I actually don't like it when random people expect me to hug them all the time), but I hate-hate-hate lack of physical affection in a dating relationship.

If a boy doesn't hold my hand or sit close to me and we are dating, I innately feel like we are fighting. But I've never been the type to cuddle with a female friend during a movie, even though I know some girls are more comfortable with that. In a nutshell, I guess I shy away from physical affection in non-romantic relationships but need-need-need it in my romantic relationships.

I know there are theories about this.

I majored in Marriage, Family & Human Development in school. Relationships fascinate me. Family units fascinate me. And I know that most of the theories I learned tell me that the way my family of origin expressed love should be directly impacting the way I give and feel love in my dating relationships. Some theories say I'll naturally want the same type of affection from a significant other that I am used to from my family, while others predict I'll seek out in dating relationships anything I feel like my family of origin didn't provide me. Shrug?

Even with all that schooling, it's hard to put my own feelings and tendencies in a box and label them. I just know I inherently gravitate toward what I need and away from what I don't, and I usually figure that out along the way as new relationships ebb and flow. My biggest love language is probably expressed in this blog post, about treating each other's important things like they are important.

What about YOU?

How did your family of origin show their affection? Do you notice that you gravitate toward more of the same in your romantic relationships, or do you seek out something completely opposite and different?


Elisabeth Gee said...

I love this! Especially the part about feeling like you are automatically fighting if there is no physical contact in a dating relationship, cause I totally feel ya there!! :)

chrissyblake said...

Sometimes I feel like I am in the wrong family because I fall in the huggy, lovey touchy category and my family is not very affectionate. We are a big "say I love you out loud" group of folks though so I take what I can get lol :)

Jenna said...

We were much like your family. We didn't hug at all, really, or express our love. But we did nice things for each other all the time and spent quality time together so the love was always understood to be present.

On the other hand, I, like you, liked physical affection in my romantic relationships. Well, I still like it. :) I expect it. An absence does make me wonder if my husband is upset with me or annoyed.

But anyway, I guess I feel like physical affection is for romance alone and not for familial or friendly relationships. I know that's not the case for everyone but it's just how I've always felt.

Good post! Interesting to think about.

Unknown said...

My family growing up was not touchy at all. And I'm still the only one who says "i love you" when I hang up the phone. But I'm with you on the taking what you can get. Like this past weekend my dad filled up my tank secretly while I was home and my mom transferred money to my bank account for the flat tire i got. There's a ton of service in my home so I have to just recognize that as love.

karajean said...

Hmmm. I have always known that my biggest love language is Quality Time, but I've never really thought about how that relates to my family of origin. We did spend a lot of time together growing up, so maybe that is why Time is so important to me? I don't know. I'll have to think on it.

P.S. I am SO with you on the physical affection thing. If we're not cuddling or holding hands I pretty much assume that we're fighting.

Unknown said...

We're not an overly huggy family, but we do hug. And "I love you" was something you wrote, not something you said. I have so many friends who always end phone calls with "I love you", and I often feel awkward saying it back. Not that I don't love them, but that's just not something you throw around like "see ya later!" I've had to learn to say it more because it means a lot to some people. My family has started trying to say it, and it is awkward. Nobody knows who is supposed to say it first, we don't know how to end phone calls normally anymore. But, we're getting there. And it is nice to hear it and it's getting less weird to say it.

Also, all of my love languages are pretty equal when I take the test. However, I've realized that gift giving is totally my biggest love language in real life. My mom always bought us treats when we were having a bad day, she would bring us home little toys or notepads or anything she found in the store that reminded her of us (I have a great collection of disney princess things that I don't need but totally love), Christmas is HUGE for us - my mom feels valuable when she can find us the perfect gift. My dad is a problem solver and one man geek squad, so his "gift-giving" is always finding us the newest laptop/technology or updating things or getting us new software or taking care of our cars. That's how he expresses his love.

It took me a really long time to understand, but now I notice that I do it all the time too. I go to the store and see something that I know my roommate will love and I HAVE to buy it for her. (She really didn't need the "Kiss me, I'm Irish" rug for her bedroom, but I needed her to have it.) So, this is also how I feel loved. When a boy doesn't get me flowers or write me a note or bring me peanut butter m&m's when I've told him I'm having a bad day, I figure he must not care at all.

Emily said...

I actually recently had a pretty big realization regarding my parents' love languages.

Often times as an adult, I would reflect on my childhood and I didn't feel like I had been really, really loved and valued in my family. This is probably in part because now I can read blogs and talk with friends who are mothers and hear about how deeply and infinitely they love their children...and I never felt that love growing up.

My family is similar to yours where we are not really physically affectionate (I'm lucky if I get more than a side hug from my dad), and we didn't start saying I love you to each other until I went to college. I would get cards where my parents would talk about their love for me, but it was very rarely that anything was said out loud.

Recently, I was pondering on how many great experiences I had growing up thanks to my parents. They spent a lot of time and energy planning great vacations and they would always spend the weekends doing fun things with my brother and I. They were also incredibly involved with our educations and would always volunteer in school activities. They are those people that I know if I need help with something, they will be there in an instant to give whatever support I need.

Finally it dawned on me as to how much my parents really do love me, they're just speaking in a different language than I do. My two strongest love languages are words of affirmation and physcial touch, neither of which my parents were displaying often. It's so much more comforting now to know that my parents really did love me as a child (it's one of those things I knew, but now I feel it too).

With my future children, I want to be really intentional about my own children's love languages so that they aren't left with these confusing feelings that I grew up with. I don't fault my parents at all, but going forward I want to learn from their choices.

So much of what you said is similar to me though! I'm big on physical affection with my husband, but not so much with friends. Even with the best of friends, I still get a little uncomfortable when we hug. It's so strange how that works.

And I just wrote a novel comment. You're welcome?

Unknown said...

You and I are the same. Hugs make me feel awkward, and I married into a hugging family. 2+ years later (not including the 4+ years of dating) and it's still uncomfortable for me. Old habits die hard, I guess. But hugs from my husband are the greatest thing in the entire world, and cure any bad day I may be having. So maybe hugs are just SO important to me that I don't throw them around to just anyone. Haha, kidding!

Anonymous said...

Love this post.

In my family, we were very touchy feely. I have 5 sisters and 1 brother (who is the oldest), so there were a lot of people to love. Us girls were always holding hands and playing with each others' hair. We even would share beds just for fun sometimes. I'm also very close with my brother and we'll give each other back rubs or sit close to each other on the couch... But I feel it's important to mention we didn't really ever do these things in public. You'd never see my brother and I giving each other back rubs in church or at school.. We didn't want to give people the wrong idea, or heaven forbid, let people who didn't know us think we were dating and ruin our chances! Haha. As I've grown though, I've become more reserved with how I distribute my touchy-feely-ness. I went through an awkward period of not liking hugging. And it still sometimes bugs me when complete strangers try to hug me, unless we made some kind of connection and it was mutual. I will always hug friends though, especially if we're saying goodbye. It has been a challenge in my relationship with my husband at times though because I am SO affectionate with always wanting to cuddle and hold hands and he is SO not that way.. Haha. He's like, "Get off me!". It makes me sad sometimes, but then I remember that both of our primary "Love Languages" is Quality Time, so as long as we are spending time together, we are both giving and receiving love. :)

Crystalee said...

Both of my parent's families are huggy types. In fact, leaving a family gathering like a burthday party can be a 15-minute affair because it is custom to make the rounds and hug cousins, aunts, uncles, and now all the great-grands too. I've always liked this.

In my single days I would be quite affectionate with my female roommates. We hugged every day, gave back scratches, even cuddled. I also hugged lots of guys, somewhat flirtatiously.

But being married now, my hugging has rapidly declined. For girls and absolutely guys. I guess i get my fill of physical affection at home from my husband. I somewhat demand to be hugged and kissed every day...guess I need that reassurance, but also the touch. Everyone needs to be touched, but some more than others.